2004 "Laredo Speaks" and City of Laredo Listens:

"Laredo Speaks" and City of Laredo Listens: Results from quality of life survey revealed


Laredo, TX-Wed., Dec. 22, '04-Findings from a quality of life community survey conducted by Texas A&M International University's Texas Center for Border Economics and Enterprise Development this fall reveal Laredoans feel passionately about existing qualities, but have concerns about the challenges that face the city.

The survey shows that Laredoans feel good about the city's quality of education, library services, garbage collection and trash disposal services and the growth in retail and service businesses. They are concerned about a perceived lack of museums, downtown accessibility for shopping and leisure activities, the need for more tourism development and promotion, improved water quality and control of gang activities.

" 'Laredo Speaks'...We hear you," said Mayor Betty Flores, "The City of Laredo is committed to building a city we can all be proud of. We're especially encouraged that much of the improvements and changes to Laredo's infrastructure that we have already accomplished has been positively reviewed by survey participants. However, we acknowledge that we have to do a better job of letting our citizens know of the long-term plans already developed that will directly answer many of their concerns. The data from this survey shows that we are already on the right path for our strategic planning for Laredo's future," Flores said.

TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck said that as the city readies for its 250th Anniversary, the 'Laredo Speaks' survey offered a chance for the city to pause and reflect on a rich history and a promising future.

" 'Laredo Speaks' offers a glimpse into a brighter future. We had a chance to reflect on how far we've all come, in some instances in the space of one generation. We've seen the city grow into a tremendous force in international trade, higher education and health care, all in a relatively short time. With that growth has come some challenges that this survey has helped us to identify and quantify," Dr. Keck said.

City officials and University researchers presented the survey findings at a press conference held in City Council Chambers Wednesday morning.

Dr. Michael Patrick, director of TAMIU's Texas Center for Border Economics and Enterprise Development, described the methodology and strategy used for the survey.

"The bilingual survey was a phased effort with the data-gathering and initial analysis occurring in June, July and August and analysis of data occurring throughout September, October and November. We opted for this method over a population-based survey because of time and cost constraints. Although the survey results may not represent the beliefs of all Laredoans, they are reflective, relevant and geographically inclusive of all areas of the community," said Dr. Patrick, "A survey was included in editions of The Laredo Morning Times, and was also available online. We also used traditional intercept surveys at various locations, surveyed members of community-based groups as well as local high school, college and university students and the city's largest employers and their employees," he explained.

Through all these methods, 3,873 surveys were completed, and 3,563 were useable. Of this total, 2,132 were personal interviews, 1,231 were on-line returns and 200 were newspaper tabloid returns," Patrick noted.

City Manager Larry Dovalina said he was especially gratified that many of the areas of concern outlined in the survey were already targeted for city initiatives in progress or in planning.

"The survey showed many citizens feel strongly that the accessibility of downtown for shopping and leisure activities needs improvement," said Dovalina, "In fact, aside from all the efforts the City of Laredo has made in upgrading our downtown, such as with the Calle Iturbide enhancements and the multi-million dollar initiative of El Portal, the City has aggressively partnered with other organizations and private enterprises to address that very issue. In the past year, those initiatives are evident, and, as we move forward, those changes and developments will help bring citizens back to Laredo's downtown."

Laredo Speaks/Habla Laredo was assisted by funding partnerships including The Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Laredo Development Foundation and The Laredo Morning Times.

The survey results, with analysis and viewable charts, will be available on-line at http://texascenter.tamiu.edu/laredospeaks on Wed., Dec. 22, 2004. Visitors to the site will be able to download or print portions or all of the document.

For additional information on the survey, please contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326-2180, e-mail pais@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library room 268.

For more information on the City of Laredo response, contact the City of Laredo Public Information Office at 791-7461 or via e-mail at lmora@ci.laredo.tx.us.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu